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Our research focuses on cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease (especially diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease) and cancer (especially breast cancer and lung cancer), because these chronic diseases account for the majority of deaths and the burden of disability worldwide.

Our expertise in the streamlined design and conduct of large-scale prospective studies, randomised trials, and meta-analyses has resulted in studies which are often far larger than those conducted by other researchers. Our work has provided reliable information about the causes of disease and the effects of drugs, and has been enormously influential in improving global health. 

An MRC Unit was established within the University of Oxford’s Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) in 1995, co-directed by Professors Sir Rory Collins and Sir Richard Peto. MRC core support to CTSU facilitated some of the world’s largest and most informative observational and randomised studies.

In 2013 the University of Oxford and the MRC created a new strategic alliance, the MRC Population Health Research Unit at the University of Oxford (MRC PHRU) to capitalise on new opportunities for epidemiological research in chronic disease, and Professor Colin Baigent was appointed as its director.

The MRC PHRU is driving forward the innovative approach to methodology pioneered by CTSU with the support of the MRC and other major funders, particularly Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation